Demetrious Johnson | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Over the last few weeks, the question of who is the greatest MMA fight of all time has been dominating the MMA conversation. This latest round of arguments was kicked off by Khabib Nurmagomedov submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 and announcing his retirement from the sport, leaving with a perfect 29-0 record. Khabib’s win prompted some to suggest he is the GOAT, to which Jon Jones took offense and argued vehemently against in favor of himself. Others chimed in and argued Jones could not be considered the GOAT because of his history failing USADA drug tests. And now, one of the other names commonly invoked in the GOAT debate has come to Jones’ side.
Demetrious Johnson is on the short list for greatest fighters in the sport’s history. “Mighty Mouse” was the inaugural UFC flyweight champion and holds the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. He also held the top spot on the UFC’s Pound-for-Pound rankings for over two years until his controversial split decision loss to Henry Cejudo and subsequent trade to ONE Championship. But despite all of those accolades, Johnson doesn’t view himself as the top guy. Instead, Mighty Mouse is in Jon Jones’ corner.
“Jon Jones has gotta be No. 1 for me,” Johnson told MMAJunkie. “His title reign, I’ve seen him train before, how he’s beaten so many great light heavyweights before. And then after that it starts to get cloudy, I’m not gonna lie. I think there are athletes that are on their way, like if Khabib would keep on fighting and do five or six or seven or eight more fights, then I’ll definitely throw him in.
“For me, I like to see longevity. I like to see dominance. Longevity is a big thing. When you look at Jon Jones, I think he’s 15 world title fights? That’s a lot of work of staying motivated, staying on top to keep on winning. I think (Israel Adesanya) is on his way. If he goes up to light heavyweight and beats the champion there, and he goes up to fight Jon Jones, he’s definitely on his way.”
Longevity certainly appears to be a key factor in most people’s list, as well as sustained dominance in the fighter’s division. When you look at the names commonly brought up in the GOAT debate – Jones, Johnson, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Jose Aldo – one of the common themes is a sustained title run. But Johnson argues that can’t be the only factor. For his GOAT, he wants to see a diversity of skills as well.
“Is it a popularity contest?” Johnson continued. “What exactly puts you in that discussion of greatest of all time? For me, it’s longevity, how many championships have you done, a little bit of everything. For me, that’s why I put Gegard (Mousasi) in there because when I watch him, I’m like, look at his hands, look at his grappling, look at his submissions. He can do it all.”
It makes sense that Johnson would include diversity of skills in his estimation as Johnson is one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA history. Johnson is one of only nine men to have won all four UFC bonuses (Fight, Knockout, Performance, and Submission of the Night). Who else shares that illustrious distinction with Johnson? None other than Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones, look at his grappling, look at his hands, look at his submissions, look at how long he’s been a champion,” Johnson concluded.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
— Paul Felder (@felderpaul) November 17, 2020
It’s my pleasure to give the new blood the respect they deserve! See ya Tuesday everyone https://t.co/ZTYuxt6Eoy
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For a man who says the fight means nothing to him, Jon spends an awful lot of time calling Izzy out.
Outside of a gigantic payday, he does nothing for me. Anderson was the man to beat in that weight class, not him. The next biggest legacy move for me is Stipe and I want all the smoke https://t.co/eUW29mveJ5
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